European election result offers lessons for Brighton and Hove

Posted On 03 Jun 2014 at 6:35 am

The rise of the Greens in Brighton and Hove offers lessons to those ready to dismiss UKIP’s advances too lightly

Supporters of the three main political parties in Brighton and Hove could be forgiven for thinking that the European election result locally bucked the wider regional, national and international trend. After all, the UK Independence Party (UKIP) trailed in fourth. Labour topped the poll, almost 2,000 votes ahead of the Greens and almost 5,000 ahead of the Conservatives. Almost four in ten voters took part.

But the gap between Labour in first place and UKIP in fourth was just 6,200 votes. And this from an electorate of about 200,000 in a poll where 76,000 cast a vote. UKIP tends to fare better in European elections and less well in local elections and general elections when voters tend to revert to the established parties. And some members of each of those parties have written off UKIP’s latest performance as a high-water mark.

Dismissive remarks carry echoes of the kind of verdicts delivered during the emergence of another political force in Brighton and Hove. It is worth recalling the way that local politics played out as the Greens rose to power.

Former Brighton and Hove council leader Steve Bassam – now Lord Bassam of Brighton and Labour’s chief whip in the House of Lords – saw the threat to his party. But his concerns were ignored by some who regarded the Greens in much the same way as they did the Monster Raving Loony Party.

It took 16 years from their first council seat in Brighton to becoming the biggest party and assuming office. And as they rose, Labour fell. UKIP is seen as more of a threat to the Tories. But a strong showing in the Midlands and the North suggests that at least some of UKIP’s support is drawn from disillusioned Labour voters.

“With less than 12 months until we next have a vote, there is all to play for”

Nonetheless, it seems hard to believe that UKIP will win any seats come the election for Brighton and Hove City Council next year. And it also seems likely that the biggest threat that they pose is to the Conservatives, diluting their vote. The same will be true at the general election which is also scheduled for May next year.

If, for example, Nancy Platts captures Brighton Kemptown for Labour, it is probable that she will have been helped by UKIP. The sitting Conservative MP Simon Kirby appears to recognise the risk. Part of his constituency is in the area served by neighbouring Lewes District Council. Mr Kirby will be keenly aware that UKIP attracted almost one in three votes there last month and topped the poll. The Tories came second with almost one in four votes.

Hall
Perhaps worryingly for Norman Baker, the widely respected Liberal Democrat incumbent, his party’s support wilted to about 13 per cent. The Greens finished fourth, just behind the Lib Dems. Labour came fifth. The area is not one of its traditional heartlands.

In Brighton and Hove key Labour figures were jubilant that their party’s vote had more than doubled to 20,414. Their leader Warren Morgan said that he was planning to make public the policies that he hopes will motivate voters to make a positive decision to back Labour next May. Many of his colleagues are in a confident mood.

But those forecasting a Green wipe-out will take little comfort from the party slipping to second place in the European elections. They garnered 18,586 votes, a modest drop on five years ago when they were on a rising tide and fewer than 2,000 behind Labour. The way in which their vote held up has left more than a few Greens feeling vindicated – and far from despondent. The party may not be over yet.

Lord Bassam has characterised Brighton and Hove as broadly left of centre. Certainly Labour and the Greens had the better result at the ballot box here last month. But optimist Conservatives see the left as divided even though the Greens and Labour point to UKIP’s progress as evidence of a growing split on the right. With less than 12 months until we next have a vote, there is all to play for.

  1. HJarrs Reply

    Very interesting article. We in B&H are lucky to have such a diverse political scene.

    Sadly, British politics is marred the first past the post system that seems designed to benefit the Labour and Conservatives. Tweedle dee and Tweedle dum politics.

    I have noticed that people now mostly vote against something, resulting in the horror of tactical voting. Time to move to a system where every vote counts .

  2. HJarrs Reply

    Very interesting article. We in B&H are lucky to have such a diverse political scene.

    Sadly, British politics is marred the first past the post system that seems designed to benefit the Labour and Conservatives. Tweedle dee and Tweedle dum politics.

    I have noticed that people now mostly vote against something, resulting in the horror of tactical voting. Time to move to a system where every vote counts .

  3. HJarrs Reply

    Very interesting article. We in B&H are lucky to have such a diverse political scene.

    Sadly, British politics is marred the first past the post system that seems designed to benefit the Labour and Conservatives. Tweedle dee and Tweedle dum politics.

    I have noticed that people now mostly vote against something, resulting in the horror of tactical voting. Time to move to a system where every vote counts .

  4. M Zuma Reply

    All meat for our grinder. Suggestions who should appear on one of our pots please. Next time Vote #gzunder

  5. pachallis Reply

    @HJarrs – yes – a very interesting article, I just wonder who wrote it? No one is identified as the author.

    Regarding changing the method of voting, it is unlikely any party in power would want to ‘kick away the ladder’ unless it would increase it’s chance of retaining power.

    On the other hand the current voting mechanism can cause change if the full population really want it – look at the SDP in Scotland. And I think they were upset when PR allowed UKIP to get an MEP.

    PR also has its faults in that voters have no choice in who is elected (with the Euro system) – Alexandra Phillips might have become an MEP – shock horror!

    I agree that we always needs to be careful what they wish for and to be careful for voting against something – such as immigration.

    However, IMHO, the greens in Brighton and Hove have been an incompetent ideological unmitigated disaster for the majority of the residents and businesses and we need to get them out as soon as possible. If first-past-the-post fulfills this in May 2015 then I am totally in favour!

  6. pachallis Reply

    @HJarrs – yes – a very interesting article, I just wonder who wrote it? No one is identified as the author.

    Regarding changing the method of voting, it is unlikely any party in power would want to ‘kick away the ladder’ unless it would increase it’s chance of retaining power.

    On the other hand the current voting mechanism can cause change if the full population really want it – look at the SDP in Scotland. And I think they were upset when PR allowed UKIP to get an MEP.

    PR also has its faults in that voters have no choice in who is elected (with the Euro system) – Alexandra Phillips might have become an MEP – shock horror!

    I agree that we always needs to be careful what they wish for and to be careful for voting against something – such as immigration.

    However, IMHO, the greens in Brighton and Hove have been an incompetent ideological unmitigated disaster for the majority of the residents and businesses and we need to get them out as soon as possible. If first-past-the-post fulfills this in May 2015 then I am totally in favour!

  7. pachallis Reply

    @HJarrs – yes – a very interesting article, I just wonder who wrote it? No one is identified as the author.

    Regarding changing the method of voting, it is unlikely any party in power would want to ‘kick away the ladder’ unless it would increase it’s chance of retaining power.

    On the other hand the current voting mechanism can cause change if the full population really want it – look at the SDP in Scotland. And I think they were upset when PR allowed UKIP to get an MEP.

    PR also has its faults in that voters have no choice in who is elected (with the Euro system) – Alexandra Phillips might have become an MEP – shock horror!

    I agree that we always needs to be careful what they wish for and to be careful for voting against something – such as immigration.

    However, IMHO, the greens in Brighton and Hove have been an incompetent ideological unmitigated disaster for the majority of the residents and businesses and we need to get them out as soon as possible. If first-past-the-post fulfills this in May 2015 then I am totally in favour!

  8. Andy S Reply

    Pachillis with usual spin tells us that the Greens have been a disaster for business but reports over the last few months have told us that B&H’s economy has stood up relatively well during the recession, that tourism is doing well, that there were more start-ups last year than ever before (but plenty of failures too – as is the norm!) and that the local economy is picking up and likely to improve further – especially over the next three years with £170million of City Deal investment and the further private investment that will bring in and a possible injection of up to £85million from the University of Sussex too! Perhaps Pachallis has a vested interest in being negative about our city – I think we should be told why?!

  9. Andy S Reply

    Pachillis with usual spin tells us that the Greens have been a disaster for business but reports over the last few months have told us that B&H’s economy has stood up relatively well during the recession, that tourism is doing well, that there were more start-ups last year than ever before (but plenty of failures too – as is the norm!) and that the local economy is picking up and likely to improve further – especially over the next three years with £170million of City Deal investment and the further private investment that will bring in and a possible injection of up to £85million from the University of Sussex too! Perhaps Pachallis has a vested interest in being negative about our city – I think we should be told why?!

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  13. pachallis Reply

    @Andy S – sorry – been out all day – will try to respond tomorrow properly and address your spinning about what positive the greens have actually achieved (not much IMHO) and where they have gone wrong (where to start?).

    The local economy has indeed done reasonably well as compared to some places, but it did not do that well. The tourism growth, according to sage HJarrs, was probably due to the good weather last year rather than anything the greens have done.

    How well the city has done could well be in spite of what the greens have done rather than caused by them – but I imagine they will claim the glory anyway.

    And both the City Deal and the Uni are, AFAIK, future help for businesses – what did they actually achieve in years 1-4 for businesses and residents?

    Just saw the other Brighton & Hove News item about ‘Brighton and Hove is fifth most congested city in Britain’ and the congestion has increased since last year. I guess this is yet another green success that they can claim. Perhaps this might explain the worsening pollution levels in the city that the greens have ‘achieved’.

    Remember all the negative news stories for the city about rubbish strikes with Lucas opposing the council; the green council wanting the biggest council tax increases in the country; and Lucas being an overgrown student blocking legal drilling operations.

    No – I am totally behind the city and want businesses to succeed; I want more visitors coming to the city and spending money; I want residents provided with the services they paid for – rather than it being re-routed to fund left-wing ideological vanity projects that get implemented badly and irresponsibly by this incompetent ‘green led’ council.

  14. pachallis Reply

    @Andy S – sorry – been out all day – will try to respond tomorrow properly and address your spinning about what positive the greens have actually achieved (not much IMHO) and where they have gone wrong (where to start?).

    The local economy has indeed done reasonably well as compared to some places, but it did not do that well. The tourism growth, according to sage HJarrs, was probably due to the good weather last year rather than anything the greens have done.

    How well the city has done could well be in spite of what the greens have done rather than caused by them – but I imagine they will claim the glory anyway.

    And both the City Deal and the Uni are, AFAIK, future help for businesses – what did they actually achieve in years 1-4 for businesses and residents?

    Just saw the other Brighton & Hove News item about ‘Brighton and Hove is fifth most congested city in Britain’ and the congestion has increased since last year. I guess this is yet another green success that they can claim. Perhaps this might explain the worsening pollution levels in the city that the greens have ‘achieved’.

    Remember all the negative news stories for the city about rubbish strikes with Lucas opposing the council; the green council wanting the biggest council tax increases in the country; and Lucas being an overgrown student blocking legal drilling operations.

    No – I am totally behind the city and want businesses to succeed; I want more visitors coming to the city and spending money; I want residents provided with the services they paid for – rather than it being re-routed to fund left-wing ideological vanity projects that get implemented badly and irresponsibly by this incompetent ‘green led’ council.

  15. Andy S Reply

    @Pachallis – So I assume you accept that your ‘Greens have been a disaster for business’ was complete hyperbole and not really based on fact?! As with your usual diatribes here and elsewhere your bias fails to give credit where it’s due and so, for instance, your carping about the bin-strike fails to note that this was a direct result of decades of pay inequality instigated and perpetuated by Labour and Tory administrations which they both subsequently failed to resolve!! Of course there have been some Green administration issues but their wider long-term vision for the cities future will hopefully see them re-elected next May!

  16. Andy S Reply

    @Pachallis – So I assume you accept that your ‘Greens have been a disaster for business’ was complete hyperbole and not really based on fact?! As with your usual diatribes here and elsewhere your bias fails to give credit where it’s due and so, for instance, your carping about the bin-strike fails to note that this was a direct result of decades of pay inequality instigated and perpetuated by Labour and Tory administrations which they both subsequently failed to resolve!! Of course there have been some Green administration issues but their wider long-term vision for the cities future will hopefully see them re-elected next May!

  17. Andy S Reply

    @Pachallis – So I assume you accept that your ‘Greens have been a disaster for business’ was complete hyperbole and not really based on fact?! As with your usual diatribes here and elsewhere your bias fails to give credit where it’s due and so, for instance, your carping about the bin-strike fails to note that this was a direct result of decades of pay inequality instigated and perpetuated by Labour and Tory administrations which they both subsequently failed to resolve!! Of course there have been some Green administration issues but their wider long-term vision for the cities future will hopefully see them re-elected next May!

  18. Andy S Reply

    @Pachallis – You refer to increased congestion which has gone up by just 1% which can easily be put down to all sorts of factors such as an increase in population, increase in people in work, increase in car usage generally – and all good reasons why we should try to reduce car usage and get people on to public transport where possible!

  19. Andy S Reply

    @Pachallis – You refer to increased congestion which has gone up by just 1% which can easily be put down to all sorts of factors such as an increase in population, increase in people in work, increase in car usage generally – and all good reasons why we should try to reduce car usage and get people on to public transport where possible!

  20. Andy S Reply

    @Pachallis – You refer to increased congestion which has gone up by just 1% which can easily be put down to all sorts of factors such as an increase in population, increase in people in work, increase in car usage generally – and all good reasons why we should try to reduce car usage and get people on to public transport where possible!

  21. pachallis Reply

    @Andy S – sorry it took so long to reply…glad you like my diatribes…here comes another one!

    ‘Greens have been a disaster for business’ – yes – well what have the greens actually done for businesses in the city?

    According to duport who issued the report on the number of businesses registered in Brighton ‘the city’s increased popularity with tourists from both the UK and abroad COULD (my emphasis) be the reason for so many new company formations’). So how about some data to back up the claim that the economy as improved? What about business revenue and profitability? What about employment and unemployment rates?).

    If you look at the base figures, Brighton (green) did okay, but Hove (tory) did even better. Blackpool, Poole and Bournemouth did better than Brighton – of the seaside resorts only Eastbourne did not so well.

    What has the green party actually do to encourage these businesses to start-up in the city? Did increasing some parking charges by 100% help? Did the never-to-be-enforced 20mph zones and bus lanes encourage visitors and shoppers to come to the city, or did they instead go elsewhere? Did the unused cycle lanes help?

    ‘Dealing with Pay inequality’ – this was something the greens decided they wanted to do as part of the left-wing socialist agenda and they scr*wed it up. End result – refuse strike that carried on for almost a year. So good left-wing ideologically – rubbish left-wing implementation. Do you remember charisma-challenged Kitcat hiding in the Town Hall and refusing to talk to the strikers whilst activist Lucas joined the picket line? Priceless!

    And what about ‘Living Wage’? A good way of increasing wage bills at a time when the country is suffering austerity measures as a result of the previous governments plan to spend us out of trouble. So the green ‘led’ council irresponsibly ignores this and the planned reductions in money from central government and still go ahead with the pay increases. Result – council needs more money to make budgets balance – or as it has had to, to reduce services.

    ‘Increased Congestion’ – just read Davey’s pathetic response to the TomTom report in ‘The Argus’ report, together with fanboy HJarrs’ sycophantic typically misleading spin. Yes – there could many reasons why the congestion has increased, but isn’t the 3% (31%/30%) increase in congestion more likely a result of the policies that the green-controlled transport committee has forced through? Perhaps you could provide some data to backup any of your assertions?

    Green administration issues – many – mainly caused by ideology, lack of maturity, and lack of responsibility.

    Greens re-elected in May 2015? I really doubt it! Could this be why Alexandra and Jason were looking to jump ship and get aboard the Euro gravy-train?

  22. pachallis Reply

    @Andy S – sorry it took so long to reply…glad you like my diatribes…here comes another one!

    ‘Greens have been a disaster for business’ – yes – well what have the greens actually done for businesses in the city?

    According to duport who issued the report on the number of businesses registered in Brighton ‘the city’s increased popularity with tourists from both the UK and abroad COULD (my emphasis) be the reason for so many new company formations’). So how about some data to back up the claim that the economy as improved? What about business revenue and profitability? What about employment and unemployment rates?).

    If you look at the base figures, Brighton (green) did okay, but Hove (tory) did even better. Blackpool, Poole and Bournemouth did better than Brighton – of the seaside resorts only Eastbourne did not so well.

    What has the green party actually do to encourage these businesses to start-up in the city? Did increasing some parking charges by 100% help? Did the never-to-be-enforced 20mph zones and bus lanes encourage visitors and shoppers to come to the city, or did they instead go elsewhere? Did the unused cycle lanes help?

    ‘Dealing with Pay inequality’ – this was something the greens decided they wanted to do as part of the left-wing socialist agenda and they scr*wed it up. End result – refuse strike that carried on for almost a year. So good left-wing ideologically – rubbish left-wing implementation. Do you remember charisma-challenged Kitcat hiding in the Town Hall and refusing to talk to the strikers whilst activist Lucas joined the picket line? Priceless!

    And what about ‘Living Wage’? A good way of increasing wage bills at a time when the country is suffering austerity measures as a result of the previous governments plan to spend us out of trouble. So the green ‘led’ council irresponsibly ignores this and the planned reductions in money from central government and still go ahead with the pay increases. Result – council needs more money to make budgets balance – or as it has had to, to reduce services.

    ‘Increased Congestion’ – just read Davey’s pathetic response to the TomTom report in ‘The Argus’ report, together with fanboy HJarrs’ sycophantic typically misleading spin. Yes – there could many reasons why the congestion has increased, but isn’t the 3% (31%/30%) increase in congestion more likely a result of the policies that the green-controlled transport committee has forced through? Perhaps you could provide some data to backup any of your assertions?

    Green administration issues – many – mainly caused by ideology, lack of maturity, and lack of responsibility.

    Greens re-elected in May 2015? I really doubt it! Could this be why Alexandra and Jason were looking to jump ship and get aboard the Euro gravy-train?

  23. pachallis Reply

    @Andy S – sorry it took so long to reply…glad you like my diatribes…here comes another one!

    ‘Greens have been a disaster for business’ – yes – well what have the greens actually done for businesses in the city?

    According to duport who issued the report on the number of businesses registered in Brighton ‘the city’s increased popularity with tourists from both the UK and abroad COULD (my emphasis) be the reason for so many new company formations’). So how about some data to back up the claim that the economy as improved? What about business revenue and profitability? What about employment and unemployment rates?).

    If you look at the base figures, Brighton (green) did okay, but Hove (tory) did even better. Blackpool, Poole and Bournemouth did better than Brighton – of the seaside resorts only Eastbourne did not so well.

    What has the green party actually do to encourage these businesses to start-up in the city? Did increasing some parking charges by 100% help? Did the never-to-be-enforced 20mph zones and bus lanes encourage visitors and shoppers to come to the city, or did they instead go elsewhere? Did the unused cycle lanes help?

    ‘Dealing with Pay inequality’ – this was something the greens decided they wanted to do as part of the left-wing socialist agenda and they scr*wed it up. End result – refuse strike that carried on for almost a year. So good left-wing ideologically – rubbish left-wing implementation. Do you remember charisma-challenged Kitcat hiding in the Town Hall and refusing to talk to the strikers whilst activist Lucas joined the picket line? Priceless!

    And what about ‘Living Wage’? A good way of increasing wage bills at a time when the country is suffering austerity measures as a result of the previous governments plan to spend us out of trouble. So the green ‘led’ council irresponsibly ignores this and the planned reductions in money from central government and still go ahead with the pay increases. Result – council needs more money to make budgets balance – or as it has had to, to reduce services.

    ‘Increased Congestion’ – just read Davey’s pathetic response to the TomTom report in ‘The Argus’ report, together with fanboy HJarrs’ sycophantic typically misleading spin. Yes – there could many reasons why the congestion has increased, but isn’t the 3% (31%/30%) increase in congestion more likely a result of the policies that the green-controlled transport committee has forced through? Perhaps you could provide some data to backup any of your assertions?

    Green administration issues – many – mainly caused by ideology, lack of maturity, and lack of responsibility.

    Greens re-elected in May 2015? I really doubt it! Could this be why Alexandra and Jason were looking to jump ship and get aboard the Euro gravy-train?

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